You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
In starting a new business, one should plan for a 5 year break even target. This MUST be a part of your business budget.
Jacob Singer of Regnis
2. Make Your Own Q&A
When starting out, I think the best tip is to answer questions. Questions such as: what does your company do (in as few words as possible), what are you selling, what are you charging, what are your long term goals for the company, what are your short term goals for the company, how are you going to advertise, how are you going to grow the company, how are you going to fund the company, where are you going to set up up the company, what licenses and fees do you need, etc.!
3. Ohhh. No Money Coming in?
You'd better stay in that cushy cube or corporate office if you get worried at all about not making anything for all of your hard work. If you have a family and car payments to make, a mortgage and anything else that you have to pay for, stay put! But, if you share a passion for reinvention, for chance, for CHANGE... Then, join us.
4. Don't Stop Marketing!
Execution + Consistency are key!
Execution of a strategy and a marketing plan is critical. My motto is, "if you stop marketing, they stop watching." Therefore, ensure that you are constantly nourishing and sharing your brand. Create a marketing strategy and execute it. Hire a team of professionals that will help elevate your mission and your movement to the next level. Be unique, be memorable, be helpful to the consumer, interact and network. Go on ahead, be a bold marketer!
5. Don't Go it Alone!
Don't go it alone! You are opening your business because you have an expertise and/or passion about a product or service. That doesn't in and of itself make you a good business person. Plan on hiring the business expertise you lack. That may be marketing, bookkeeping, website development, social media... The list is endless. Build a team. Rely on your team. And remember, they don't have to be full time employees. Virtual assistants are a great resource today.
6. Know the Competition
The most important thing that every entrepreneur should know is everything about the competition. And, never ever believe that there is NO competition. Competition is any entity that takes your potential customer's money away from you. You must know everything about any business that pursues your customer's money. You must be able to differentiate your business from all competitors and explain why the customer should spend their money with you and not others. Competition is your best friend in business.
7. Hanging Out Your Shingle
When a new business opens, owners often forget the key ingredient in opening a new establishment. People spend their life savings on opening a business, but forget to plan and implement marketing. Build it and they will come doesn't work. MARKET like crazy. SEO, ads, radio and other marketing vehicles will propel your new business. Marketing is key to any business. You need to spend marketing bucks to make your business work. Just hanging out your sign will not bring customers in.
There is no such thing as Work-Life Balance when you work for yourself. It's Work-Life Integration. Balance comes with time and practice.
9. Don't Stop Before the Miracle!
Stay focused, keep your eye on the result you're looking/intending/hoping for and don't stop before the miracle.
If we were all walking a tightrope or on a zip line, of course we wouldn’t stop ¾ of the way across or down, am I right? Don’t stop before the miracle simply means keep going for what you want and don’t let anything stop you. Be tenacious. Stay focused; stay on point.
10. Stop Planning and DO!
Business plans and research can be very valuable. But many new entrepreneurs spend so much time planning that they never really learn how their business is going to run. During the early stages, make sure to divide your time only 25% to planning and 75% to doing.
Think of it this way: if you spend all of your time writing recipes, everyone will be hungry come dinnertime.
11. Be Generous
There are a lot of little choices to make when you're setting up your new business. Before you make each decision, ask yourself, "Is this selection the most generous toward my future clients/customers?" The more you can give, the more you will get.
12. Bye-bye Evenings
Time management is the biggest challenge for new business owners. Time is money, and most new business owners have little of either. So, give up evenings until you can afford to outsource - but outsource as soon as possible, because a sleep-deprived entrepreneur is less likely to be a successful entrepreneur.
13. Keep it Simple
New and seasoned business owners will give and receive rewards by "Keeping it Simple". From the business plan to human resource issues, from purchasing to sales, keeping expectations high with a minimum amount of rules works best in growing your business.
Thanks to: Kathleen Anderson.
14. Actions Not Plans
I will take full responsibility for myself and my actions, and accept the challenge of becoming a top performer.
I agree to face the negative invisible scripts that I have created in my life and replace them with the positive and productive scripts of top performers.
I will not quit when things get challenging. I realize that top performers take action even when life gets hard.
Hustle for opportunities, build authentic relationships and plan accordingly...
15. Don't Try to Be a Know-it-all
Entrepreneurs are often going it alone early in their endeavors, but the key to growing in success and doing so rapidly is realizing what you know and what you don't know. Then, determine what you want and need to learn and find others to surround yourself with that can help with the rest. Isolation as an entrepreneur gives time for reflection, which is needed, but partnership and teamwork will lead to expanding the impact and difference that one's efforts can make. Know when to ask for help.
16. Confident Business Decisions
My one tip for entrepreneurs starting a new business is to learn how to make effective decisions to ensure the success of their venture as it relates to stockholders, boards, employees, vendors, customers, the media, and the public. The stakes are high - one wrong move could cost millions of dollars. Many business owners and executives don’t know how to make confident decisions because they don't teach it in business school, yet it's the most valuable business skill you will ever learn.
17. Time Clock
I was informed when I started my first business that I would not be punching the time clock anymore, except once - IN. To be successful with a new business, you must be focused 24/7 on the people, events and opportunities that guide you toward your ultimate goals. You'll discover that your social circle will change as you begin spending more time with other successful business people and learning from them. Entrepreneurship is a FULL-TIME job, seven days a week.
18. Don't Pass By the Little Guy
Because no man [or business] is an island to himself, there will come a time when you'll need people. When launching a business, you'll definitely need service providers.
Don't be so quick to look up the biggest name that you can find. There are plenty of fellow small business service providers who are far more economical, personable and can better heal your start-up pains.
Besides, the greener grass you're certain only a big brand can deliver could be just beautifully-packaged AstroTurf.
19. Be Best at What They Want Most
Make a promise to your customers and then, draw the experience that delivers it. Spend the rest of your planning time making sure that what customers want most is what your new business does best.
20. You Can't Do it All Yourself!
Many entrepreneurs tend to be one-man-bands where they write the proposals, design the product, and market the concept all by themselves and in reality, you can do that! But, you'll never be great at all of those tasks.
The most important skill that I have found is to be able to spend money properly to find the people to help make your vision a reality.
Don't be afraid to take on partners. Just remember that 40% of a successful company is always better than 100% of a failure.
21. It's Not Your Money
Always, always, always keep your business and personal bank accounts separate. If you are going to pay yourself, do it, and then, pay your personal expenses from your personal account. Using the business account to fund personal expenses is one of the most common ways entrepreneurs end up personally liable for company debts.
22. The Risks You Don't Know
Risk doesn’t get much respect, especially from entrepreneurs who are so passionate about their new offering. Identifying the risks delivers two huge benefits. It alerts you to areas you didn’t consider, and it will impress your investors or advisors. THE best and most comprehensive source for risks specific to your industry is a prospectus. Find one for any company that is closest to yours and read the section on risks which often lists a dozen or more. You will learn new risks.
23. Don't Try to Do EVERY Thing!
Your to-do list will be longer than Santa's ... don't try to do it all in one day. Don't skip eating healthy and exercising to "make more time" ... you'll need your strength for the long haul.
24. What are You Building?
Focus on the "what" before getting caught up in the "how." The business is yours to create however you want, so choose to create a business you love!
25. Create Your Company's Culture
Consider the type of work environment you'll be creating for your future staff and paint the picture in great detail. We've found that while a great job and competitive salary are important to candidates, company culture may trump these two as their top priority. When you're just getting started and building a team, creating an attractive culture is tops. Job candidates often reveal that it was our company culture and being part of something special that attracted them to us in the first place.
26. Get Real!
You can write a detailed business plan, design a clever logo and rent plush office space, but your business isn't a real business until you have customers.
Whether your company is selling a service or product, focus on how you'll generate revenue. How will you attract buyers? That's the real deal if you want to succeed.
27. Find a Mentor
There are a million things that I did not know when I first started my company: alternative ways to finance, how to structure loans, create a business plan, hire, fire or even sign a lease that was in my favor. Looking back, if I had had someone that I trusted that was not family and was not personally vested in my business that I could go to with questions such as these, as needed, my life would have been much smoother. As the expression goes, you don't know what you don't know!
28. Do it!
The person who gains the most must make the call and that is you. You must call and keep calling. When someone says that they will call you, they won't.
Thanks to: Miriam Silverberg.
29. Set a Start Time
Be intentional about what time your workday starts. I used to be at my desk - in a tie - by 8 AM regardless of how late I had worked the night before. In addition to the splendid time management benefits, putting on a "uniform" marks the day for everyone to see- a HUGE benefit for those that work at home!
30. Get Your Money
The biggest thing that I didn't know but needed to know when I started my business was "manage receivables closely."
Prior to getting into business, my paycheck would be deposited into my checking account on the last day of the month.
Once I started my consulting business, I took too long to get invoices out to the clients and ran into cash flow problems.
Don't make this mistake. Mange your receivables. Send invoices promptly. Follow up one day after the due date.
31. Beware of Too Much Flexibility
Many people think that once they're entrepreneurs, they set their own work schedules and can work whenever they want. That's true to some extent - but your customers will also partially dictate when you have to be at the store or in front of the computer. The "flexible" work hours you look forward to might not be as easy to organize as you think!
If you want flexible working hours, set clear expectations with your clients about how and when you work with them.
32. Nay the Naysayers!
Ignore the naysayers: Oh, these guys are idiots; in most cases, these are the guys who never did anything themselves and they want to keep the rest of the world just like them. When you come across a naysayer, just look at him and ask yourself, do you want to be like him? If yes, follow what he’s saying and if the answer was ‘no’, ignore the guy and stay away from him.
33. All That Glitters isn't Gold
My one main business related tip to entrepreneurs starting a new business is to speak with successful business owners in your industry. Don’t get caught up in the shiny end result. You don’t see the hard work that goes into building a business. You don’t see the obstacles and problems that you may have to overcome. You don’t see the strain on relationships. Finally, you need to like marketing and PR. You can’t bury your head in the sand and hope that someone else will do it for you.
34. LOVE What....
Make sure that you enjoy and believe in what you do and that profits are not your sole reason of interest. Challenges will come and if you love your business and what it stands for, you will be ready and willing to roll your sleeves up and get to work. If you don't, you will find it very hard to "stay in the race" and meet those challenges head on.
35. Don't Be Afraid to Succeed
My advice to any new business would be to put a large focus on marketing - even if it means pushing your supply to the limit. Getting new supply is generally easy; getting new clients is the hard part. I hear a lot of new business owners talk about wanting to "grow organically" - this is just the articulate way of saying that they are scared to succeed.
36. Seek Guidance
Learning from highly experienced and talented professionals who are experts on sales, marketing, business development, technology, programming, design, administrative organization, and management will be extremely helpful. Read about and speak to industry thought-leaders and successful entrepreneurs
and investors. Apply their strategies, tactics, mindsets, and ideas in a way that works best for you. Aim to make your company a lean, keen, innovative machine.
37. If You Do it, Measure it!
Paying attention to ROI is one of the most important things that a business owner can do. When you spend money on marketing, advertising, paid search, SEO or even employees, it is important to know what your return is on that expenditure. If you know what works, you can do more of it. If you don't know, it's difficult to grow the business. It's also important to stop spending money on outlets or expenditures that are not working. If you are spending money, measure your return!
38. Leave Your Comfort Zone & ...
... start making mistakes! Being a successful entrepreneur means that you need to be proficient at many things, and sticking to your comfort zone means you aren't growing and rounding out the skill set necessary to excel. Making mistakes is a critical part of this process, because mistakes 1) present you with important “learning moments” and 2) they shed light on better ways to do business. Just make sure that you aren’t repeating your mistakes.
39. Show Up for You, Inc.
I always say, if you can show up for your boss, Monday-Friday, 9-5pm, you can show up for You, Inc. Your business is not a hobby. It's your bread and butter. It keeps the lights on.
40. Use a Grunt Fund
A Grunt Fund is a method for implementing a perfectly fair equity split in a bootstrapped start-up company, unlike other models that rely on unreliable valuations based on guesses (also called assumptions).
The Grunt Fund uses a simple set of calculations that determine the relative value of time, money, ideas, relationships and anything else that a person can contribute. It's the most precise equity model on the planet and it works in all types of companies.
41. Start Off Small
Start with what you have. Don't rush to creditors and banks for loans. Begin with an idea and start building your business slowly with the resources that you have readily available. Progress lulls initially, but the foundation of your company will be stronger in the end. There is such a sense of freedom when you have a productive company up and running without the stress of debt hanging over your head.
42. Expect to Fail. Do it Anyway
Don't get too hung up on making sure that you have the perfect idea or niche. Find something that people are interested in that matches your expertise and just run with it. You will figure things out along the way much faster and better than if you spend an eternity preparing and making sure that you have everything perfect before you launch. As you go on, remember to view every failure as a step up that can show you what you need to learn - it's a good thing!
43. Just Know What You Love
When starting a new business, do your research and study your competition and how your product differs from what's available. Road test your product or service and get feedback. If it is truly your passion and you get a good response, don't concern yourself with how much money it will make. Live your dream, your passion, and let the end results evolve. If you start by trying to justify the ultimate reward, you will be disappointed in the early goings. The money and growth will naturally evolve.
44. 4 Tips to a Successful Startup
Test your business concept thoroughly before launching. There is no more room for "me-too" businesses.
Use the "Harvard Rule of Four" to determine if you have a viable business:
a. Something everybody wants
b. Something nobody has
c. Something priced to sell
d. Something priced for profit
If your idea passes this test, then you should pursue it vigorously.
45. Minimize the Challenges
There were three top challenges that entrepreneurs faced when starting their own business as reported in a recent study conducted by Sage. First, many struggled with the work/life balance, figuring out how to do marketing and taxes. What’s surprising about this is not that many admitted that they experienced these challenges, but that they also confessed that they did not invest in software specifically designed to make these processes easier for start-ups. Technology and software can help!
46. Promote to Everyone
The one best tip that I would pass along to new entrepreneurs is to network with everyone and anyone possible, as the best leads typically come from the least likely sources. Be sure to self-promote to friends, friends of friends, and family (close AND extended).
47. Address a Compelling Need
Offer a service or product that people really need. How strong is there a need for your offering? If the need is mild, the response will be mild. The greater the compelling need, the greater your chances for success.
48. Stop with the Excuses!
The best tip that I can provide here is to DO IT. Right NOW! We will always find excuses to prolong the start and growth of our business and we will find ways to self-sabotage without even realizing that we are doing it. The thing to remember is that life is short and RIGHT NOW is the perfect time to take action. Hold onto that motivational and inspirational feeling and remember it when self-doubts start coming in.
49. Find People Who Care
When hiring a team, make it a top priority to find people who are up for the challenge, and who CARE. Working in a startup can feel like a roller coaster, and you need to find the ones who are willing to be creative and go the distance with you. You should feel like they want to invest their mind, heart and soul in your company.
50. Love Thy Customer
Treat your existing customers for what they are- gold. In today's hyper-competitive, globally connected business world, it is harder and more expensive than ever to differentiate yourself from competition or garner a new customer. Personal contact and loyalty incentives are a must, but not nearly as important as a genuine mindset of appreciation for those who will carry you as your business grows to the point of sustainability. Today's winners love their customers more than the competition does.
51. Even Your Mom May Not Help You
Realize that some of the people in your network: your close friends, business associates, family, etc... will help you when you launch your business, while others will not. Too often, new entrepreneurs think the people they care about will help get the word out about their company, only to find many ignore (or even undermine) their efforts. The worst part is you can rarely predict in advance who will be on which side of the fence. Don't take it personally, just go work hard and succeed.
52. Know Your Why
Why did you go into business? Why did you choose the business you are in? When you know your why, you are more motivated and clear. When you convey your why in your messages, you sell more because you will be better understood and known for what motivates you. A clear why will help you continue to overcome obstacles. The why is what makes it important. Without the why, it easily becomes just another job and one that may not pay as well. Your why motivates you to succeed and help more people.
53. Be In it for the Long Haul
Many people go into their own business hoping to make millions. In reality, this happens to a small percentage of owners. The rest of us are putting in 70-hour weeks, dealing with everyday chaos & living paycheck to paycheck. If your 3-year business plan ends with, “We will be bought out,” you probably aren’t going into business for the right reason.
You need to believe in your product and want to be in it for the long haul.
There are no shortcuts to success, just early exits.
54. Be Bold and Brave
Every small business owner and entrepreneur should not be afraid to be bold and brave. My one best tip for starting a business is market yourself or your business as if you were on a speed date. Get your point across loud and clear because you only have a few minutes of your 'dates' attention. Thanks to social media and the internet, this method of marketing has been more effective than ever.
55. Find a Co-Founder Quick
The first thing to do is find a co-founder. The journey of entrepreneurship is not something one should travel alone. The path is long, winding, dark, and unpaved. It helps to have someone in the shotgun seat. You need that honest opinion from someone with skin in the game and an understanding of the full picture. You need that like-minded person to lift your spirits when they are down. Your business is your baby. And your business is better off in a two-parent household.
56. Learn From My Mistakes!
Here’s what I wish I knew:
1. Everything you go through in the corporate world will serve you well as an entrepreneur! Consider it group training in speed & uncertainty.
2. If you did a function in corporate life, don’t think you can do it for yourself in your business.
3. DON’T TRY TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF! You'll fail.
4. You WON'T get to do what you love full time. You must sell first!
5. Taking care of yourself is taking care of the business. You ARE the brand.
57. Listen to the Iron String
"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." said Emerson. That idea, dream, or insight inside you is legitimate; act on it. The journey is difficult, but do not lose your focus. When encountering doubters remember Kipling's poem, IF, "Trust yourself when all men doubt you but, make allowances for their doubting too." This means act, yes, but consider wise advice too. That vibrating sound is your vision and no one will bring it to life the way your heart is telling you to.
58. Not for the Money
Don’t take on clients just for the money and the growth. That's a total fear-based decision. And, don’t keep clients if you don’t like them. At one point in one of my businesses, I analyzed our 6 million dollar client base and realized 60% of our clients weren’t profitable and, incidentally, it was the same 60% of our clients that we didn’t like, respect or trust. In short, 60% of our clients sucked! It took me years to realize this.
Photo credit: Kit Campbell
59. You Don't Know What You Don't
You've checked lots of businesses. Wholesale, Retail, Manufacturing, Service Bus, the list goes on. BUT before you start to move ahead, have you really found out what the DAY TO DAY reality is, of running that business?
I suggest you speak to owners about their experience.
What do they like or dislike about it?
Would they do it again if they knew what they knew now?
Ask if you could spend time watching.
You may be surprised at what you see & possibly re-think your decision.
60. Do Your "Homework" First!
Do your homework BEFORE you hang out your shingle! It's a great idea to do a lot of research and homework on how to set up your business for success before you take that leap. I spent months getting advice and lining up resources before launching my business 15 years ago, and I've never regretted it. It's served me well, as I had an accounting system and a home office ready to go when I started my consulting business. And make sure you get a great accountant to help with your taxes!
61. Strategy for Getting Clients
I've worked with several start-ups to help them launch a new website for their new business and many have complained to me about the lack of new clients and reduced cash flow while in start-up mode. Just building a website is NOT the answer to getting new clients.
You should have a strategy! Have at least 1-5 clients lined up before leaping in to start a new business.
Start to build a client base and cash flow before quitting your job. And launch the website as early as you can!
62. Something Only You Can Make
My best tip as a marketing expert to entrepreneurs starting a new business is to create something only you can make! Every successful start-up has a monopoly. You must have a monopoly on what you make- that someone else can’t make it the way you make it or provide it the way you provide it.
Brilliant marketing is around figuring out that product you can make or that service you can provide that people are willing to cross the street to get or search/poke around the web to buy.
63. Invest in Automation
Starting out as entrepreneurs, we tend to want to save every penny and do everything ourselves. We think this is saving money - often times, it's not! There are so many amazing tools out there that can help you with your business. Don't be afraid to invest in automation such as systems and software, if something costs you $50 a month but saves you 20 hours of your time, it's well worth it! Get real perspective when it comes to investing your money and investing your time.
64. Crocodile Bite it
If you know where you are going or you are not that clear, do not worry. But take the crocodile bite to your goal and do not let go of your prey. It is going to be full of challenges, setbacks, successes, surprises and new possibilities. It will take a big chunk of time out of you. Be ready to do the work it needs from you and focus on building your reputation and networks. Your reputation is one of your biggest assets. A good reputation should be your business card.
65. Watch Out for Charge Backs!
Many people do not know that if your ratio of charge backs exceeds 1%, you may lose your merchant account and be placed on a black list called Terminated Merchant File (TMF). After this, no one would give you a merchant account, unless you pay over 9% in transaction fees. I had to find out the hard way. When I started out, I did not bother to fight charge backs less than $25 and these piled up to a point that I lost my merchant account. On top of that, they locked up $25K of my funds for 6 months.
66. Plan Very Well! And Be Patient
You never know what your product adoption will be. But you can research – talk to stakeholders – on the supply side to make sure the economics are viable, to customers to understand their needs – talk to them about your idea to see if it would address their pain point. Take feedback on UI and UX early. You tend to lose objectivity on your product & find every feature easy to use and the work flow perfect. However, when a first time user tries it, he may think completely differently.
67. Know When to Pivot
Knowing when the entrepreneurial spark is gone is the key to innovate in another area and the sign of a wise leader. I would advise my younger self to change direction early on if the values and mission of the company no longer resonated with me instead of having business decline and personal relationships suffer. Innovation and ideation are internalized- when the excitement is missing from any key member of the team- it is time to pivot.
68. Hyper Focus on Customer Needs
The secret to continual growth and start up success is a hyper focus on customer needs, while keeping things simple- internal needs, business complexities, and opportunities are always secondary. If you can deliver something unique, better and faster than someone else- go for it and NEVER lose sight of the customer as you scale up.
69. Waking Up Sleeping Giants
Bring a new approach to a traditional industry to change the game.
70. First Plan Your Work
The primary reason that many start-ups fail is that they do not write a real business plan that is validated by a Cash Flow Forecast. A very good free business plan outline is at www.score.richmond.org, click on "Templates & Tools", then “Plans for Startups”. A good Cash Flow Forecast Template is at www.TheRoadToTheTop.com. When setting cash needs, "It always takes longer and cost more". No one ever went broke because they had too much cash.
71. Learn to Say 'No'
One key tip for someone starting a business is learn to say 'No.' When starting a new company, one might be eager to take on any project, over extend themselves with new business, or work with any client in order to launch their enterprise. In essence, you give away the store. If you learn to say 'No' at the onset of starting your business, one is less inclined to find themselves in situations that could be potentially detrimental to your company's brand and reputation.
72. The Weirder the Better
The biggest mistake for you to avoid is thinking you're for everyone. Instead, niche. Niche quickly and narrowly, so you'll stand out from the crowd & become the go to source. You are better off with a crowd of specific, weird, people who are crazy about the topic following you than you are with everyone. You'll make more money and you'll help more people. When you have the ability to stand out, you'll get noticed and make money. Find a platform & stand for something...it will get you far, fast!
73. Cash is King for a Start-up!
Never underestimate the power of cash. I recommend that every business owner has at least one year's worth of savings in reserve for their business. Liquidity assists business owners when times are improving and also when things go soft - especially if your launch isn't as strong as you anticipated. Cash also ensures more self-reliance, which gives an owner the flexibility to do what they deem necessary as they iron-out the kinks and look ahead toward the ongoing success of the business.
74. Don't Sell Tires with Flowers
Why does the market need your business? Every new entrepreneur must know first that they are a marketer. Sales must be made before work can be done. So, when you offer products and services, make sure they supply the means to accomplish the why. You’re not buying stock, you’re investing in the future of your business, you’re buying to better, more effectively, market your business. Make sure everything you plan to supply your customers with fits into your marketing plan. Then, sales can boom.
75. Be Brutally Honest
Over the years, I’ve found that the best way to succeed in business is to face challenges head on. Whenever I've avoided facing an issue in my business, or hoped that something would miraculously get better if I just “forgot about it”, it unavoidably got worse! In my experience, being brutally honest and transparent about business related activities is actually a much kinder way of handling the work, and while it’s not easy, it's the most expedient way to resolve just about anything.
76. Listen & Validate
Drop the thin skin, be a good listener and welcome outside input to validate your model. Do not presume you know better than your customer and always remember that the center of the customer's universe is the customer. Many start-ups today are too inward-focused, entrenched and lack the requisite clarity to eliminate obstacles to success – thus negating their own expertise and ability to create value. Remember, when you have a solid plan that allows other input, good things should happen.
77. Act Now. Think Later
If you over-think everything, opportunity will pass you by. Experience is the only way to overcome your fear. Go out and make mistakes. Learn from them. Then, make sure to not make the same mistakes again!
78. IRS Prevention is Key
One of the biggest things a new business owner can do to increase their chance of success is to understand their business's tax obligations. Most new business owners tend to focus on the technical aspect of the good or service they provide, but fail to recognize and satisfy the immediate and ongoing tax requirements, which can quickly put their business in serious financial harm. Knowing which returns need to be filed and which taxes need to be paid can help keep you off of Uncle Sam's radar.
79. Capital is King
Never underestimate how well capitalized you need to be in starting a business. The more you sell, the more cash is required. The more successful you are, the more capital is required to expand the business and take advantage of opportunities that arise.
80. Bet Big or Lose More
The less you bet, the more you lose when you win. You have to be all in for whatever your passion is. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your idea is THE idea—that every test you’ve thrown at it has been successful—holding back energy, funding, or your full 100% unadulterated commitment is just creating the environment for failure. If you can’t fully commit, why would anyone else?
Boland Jones of PGi
81. Mind Your Business (Taxes)
Creating or expanding the footprint of a business can trigger unexpected tax liabilities. Before venturing into a new location or expanding your on-line venture, research the state and local (or international) tax obligations. In some cases, you can minimize or avoid the local taxes through careful planning. Failing to address the issue in a timely manner can create liability for back taxes, interest and penalties years down the road that dwarfs the cost of compliance in the first instance.
82. 'Want To' and 'Need To'
Prepare yourself to be able to let go of all of the things you 'want to do' with your business and get used to doing the things you 'need
to do' for your business to thrive. When your business grows, so will the list of things that have to get done and the to-do list.
To be successful, strive to finish everything on the 'need to do' and 'want to do' lists with the knowledge that this is an unobtainable goal.
83. How to Reach Sales Nirvana
Do you want to know if your new business will be successful? Answer this question?
What do I sell?
Simple, right? Wrong!!! The vast percentage of business owners cannot accurately answer that question.
If you sell a product, you're selling what that product does for the buyer, not the product.
Example: Printers sell speed or quality or price, not printing.
If you sell a service, you sell *you,* not the service. People buy services from people they trust. Does your marketing sell you?
84. Hire Now, W or W/O Skill
Many business owners wait to hire help until they feel they can afford to do so, which for many is far too long. Don’t wait. If you hire the right person, he or she will more than pay for himself or herself in a very short period, which can free you up to do the things that bring more money into the business. Hire for personality and train for skill. If they have the right work ethic, drive and reasonable intelligence, they can be trained for skill. However, you cannot change who they are.
85. Bringing Change to the Market
The inspiration is to bring change or improvement that does not already exist in the market. The mission and vision is mandatory, so that a roadmap is available to follow for the entire team. Roadblocks are picking the wrong technology to grow with.
86. Your Customers Really Do Know!
It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people miss it. People know what they want! They're even willing to tell you. So, be willing to listen! You've got the best chance of creating a product/service that will sell when you are giving your customers what they want, rather than what you think they need.
87. Financing the Dream
Difficulty securing financing doesn't have to end an entrepreneurial dream. There are alternative options, including Rollovers as Business Startups. "ROBS" let entrepreneurs leverage retirement assets to finance a business while protecting personal credit and can be used along with traditional financing. It's a trend that's catching on; we've seen a 72% jump in ROBS since 2009. So, don't throw in the towel. Rather, look at the options -- the best course may be to invest your money in yourself.
88. The One That Got Away
A balance needs to be struck- all things in moderation. Stay hungry. Smell the roses. It's difficult to remember these when you're busting your tail to promote yourself/business. Self-employment can be exhaustive & taxing on family. Stay hungry, but stop & eat a meal with family to remind yourself why. Work hard, play hard. A 12 hour workday is fine, but take someone to the park tomorrow. The reason you work so hard on your life, love, business & home is to live there!
89. Know Thyself
Be very introspective with yourself and first ask, “What specific skill sets am I bringing to this business?” If a person has to think about this for very long before coming up with an answer, perhaps this particular business is not the one to go into.
90. Find Balance to Move Forward
My best tip for a new entrepreneur is to find balance between planning and action. Most new entrepreneurs suffer from one of two issues: either they rush forward without any planning or validation or they obsess over every detail and never get anything done. Finding balance between the two extremes so that you are able to continuously take strategic action is key to success. When you're just starting out, turning to a mentor or coach to assist you in finding that balance is incredibly helpful.
91. Experience is the Best Asset!
Please work at a similar kind of business before you start your own. Make all of your mistakes there. Take your time as long as you want to create your "cheat list", all the contacts you may need in the future.
92. No One Cares
As I enter the 3rd year of my startup, the best advice I can provide for any new entrepreneur is that "No one cares about your idea." Many entrepreneurs
feel that their idea will be stolen as soon as they open their mouths about it.
An idea will remain an idea unless it's executed properly. Your idea needs validation from lots of people. The longer you keep quiet, the more the business suffers.
93. Dare as Youth Does
If people say that your business is foolish and will not prosper, you are tempted to adopt a consequent defeatist attitude. To counteract this, run the following affirmation through your mind when detractors come upon you--- "One day, you will be buying my company's stock" (Michael Guberti). In the end, your business success will be determined by your effort, not the negative words of others. "Ignore the noise" (Bill Belichick, New England Patriots World Champion coach).
94. When to Launch a New Business
The best time to launch your business was a year ago. The second best time is now.
95. "Anyone" Will NOT Buy From You
One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make when seeking leads is stating to one or a group of people in their 30 second pitch: "My product or service is perfect for ANYONE who needs...".
Whether it is or not, if you want to gain productive referrals or introductions, you have to be very specific in describing your perfect connection(s), i.e. I am looking for female professionals, VP or higher, in companies >$50M in technology vs. women in corporate. Which one works best?
96. Reach Out to Influencers
Reach out to influencers among your target audience even before you launch. Find out whether they are potential customers of yours and the pain they have with current solutions. Solicit their feedback and use it to improve your offerings. Most influencers tend to have vested interests in your product, service or business once a great relationship is built, so they won't mind mentioning you in front of their audience on the day you launch.
97. Low or NO Overhead Business
Coming from a person who was strangled with tremendous overhead in my first business on the floor of the NYSE, my tip is go for a business with LOW or NO overhead.
In 2011, I started a business inside a networking model. This model is sharing products & health coaching, from which I’ve built a successful six figure income+ with no overhead.
I wish I had been taught many years ago that there are businesses out there that do not require overhead to earn significant money.
98. Insight from Customer Behavior
Let your business turn into what it wants to be, not force it in the direction you think it should go. In the early stages, you need to stay open-minded, flexible, and do a fair amount of sitting back and observing. What kinds of clients / customers are you attracting? What do they want from you? How are they using your products and services? Customer behavior will tell you everything you need to know about how your business might evolve and become successful.
99. Your Roadmap to a New Business
My one tip for new businesses would be to make sure you have an Operating or Shareholder Agreement for your new business. Many people start out businesses with friends, co-workers, relatives and set up the business as 50/50 owners. New business owners who have more than one member or shareholder need to have an agreement that sets out what happens in the event of a deadlock or in the event someone wants to get out of the business.
100. Just Start
Successful entrepreneurs start with action, and later focus on things such as getting support, resources, and collecting information through market research or other means. Their first priority is putting a real, tangible product or service in the hand of consumers. Not only do they gain real accurate feedback on whether their idea is viable for success, but even if it's a failure, they fail quick and cheap, not wasting time or money any further.
101. Clarity Pays for Your Website!
Most businesses require a good website. I recommend not to consult a website developer right away. Why not? Most website developers favor a specific platform and will suggest for you to use it. They will also require your direction and build the website to your specification. Providing this level of direction is impossible without a clearly defined website strategy. The three most important components for your strategy are website objectives, a clearly defined target audience and call to action.
102. Uncle Sam is REAL!
Save money for taxes! This is one of those financial aspects of business they don’t usually mention in business books that focus mainly on how to get your first sale. As you struggle (or thrive) through your first year, make sure to save at least 30 percent of your net profit to pay taxes at the end of the year. If you don’t save or pay taxes quarterly, then you risk getting stuck into a perpetual cycle of paying last year’s taxes plus penalty fees and interest.
103. Become the Expert!
Change your focus for awhile. Instead of thinking about the money you can bring in, think about the information you can give away. When we launched our business, we provided potential clients with a wealth of "DIY" information that they could use to improve their marketing and grow their business. We offered a monthly magazine full of tips, free webinars, how to videos, and white papers. We were quickly positioned as the experts in our field and a steady flow of new clients has been the result.
104. The Art of Selling
Most entrepreneurs develop business plans, set up accounting systems, order inventory & make their businesses look good. The area they lack the most in is how to sell.
Even those who are adept at generating leads or driving people to their stores fail to recognize that nothing happens until someone sells something.
In order to persuade someone to invest in your product, you need to ask the right questions to determine their needs, wants, and desires. Then, guide them to your solution.
105. Focus on Failure
Honestly and brutally ask what are the circumstances and situations that could bring this business-to-be to its knees. If you can contemplate reasonable solutions to those dilemmas, you should proceed. Entrepreneurs can be naïvely optimistic. I assume that you have a million reasons why your amazing idea will succeed. Asking yourself how you can get your head torn off in this venture, long before you order the "Grand Opening" sign, is the best way to make sure it doesn't happen.
106. It Starts with a Good Idea
Be passionate about your idea. Many would-be entrepreneurs are passionate about starting a business, but not about any particular idea. In my experience, you have to start with an idea that you're truly passionate about because you're going to live and breathe that idea for the foreseeable future. That passion will sustain you through the high AND low times. If you have an idea that you just can't stop thinking about, you're well on your way to starting a successful business.
Sara Sutton Fell of FlexJobs
107. Set Up a "Listening Station"
My best tip for someone starting a business is to start reading, learning, listening, and asking questions. To make it easy, I recommend setting up a listening station. Using Feedly, subscribe to 15-20 blogs about your industry and/or entrepreneurship. Also, subscribe to 5-10 podcasts about your industry and/or small business. Using Twitter, create lists of journalists who cover your industry, competitors, and possible strategic partners. Finally, read E-myth by Michael Gerber.
108. Pace Yourself
There's no such thing as an instant success. Building a business takes patience. Don't jump right in and do everything so fast that your head starts spinning. Millionaires are not made over night. It would be wise to take thing slowly, moving one step at a time so you won't feel overwhelmed. Patience, persistence, and hard work are key.
109. Know Your Limits!
My best tip for someone starting a business is know your limitations, and be prepared to surround yourself with (and trust) experts with a diversity of skills if you want to succeed... you can’t do everything on your own.
110. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Work on the few most important things and try to ignore the small stuff. It's easier said than done, but it's the best advice I received when I was starting out. This way, you can focus on the biggest drivers that will really move the needle. Also, get a right-hand person as soon as possible, and train him or her to act as your partner.
111. Believe in Yourself!
My advice for anyone starting a business is believe in yourself because no one else will. If you have that strength to move forward with your convictions, then your hard work will pay off eventually. The best view will be at the top of your steep climb.
112. Persevere by Being a Bit Crazy
If you are starting a business, take a good look in the mirror to be sure you are incredibly passionate about what you believe in, and a little bit crazy. You need to be crazy to get through the tough times – times where any rational person would give up and get a day job. You need to be passionate, because if you don't love and believe in what you're doing, you will fail. Passion and being crazy will allow you to persevere through the hardships and make it to the other side - where success awaits you!
113. Don't Let Others Set Your Bar!
When I was first starting my company, I approached a PR firm and was told it would be a stretch to get a meeting. I refused to aim low, so I took things upon myself and went into the offices of some of the biggest media conglomerates in the business and asked to see the editor. Sure enough, I got meetings and was publicized in national outlets. Therefore, it is important not to let others set your bar; set your own bar and aim 10 feet above it!
114. Golden Rule: Plan for Success
Plan, plan, plan. That Year One $100,000 goal may mean 2000 hours of labor if your products or services aren't packaged well. Even if you’re a solopreneur, take insurance, bookkeeping and other key services and fees into account. Understand your target audience, brand and value. In short, create a practical strategy for operations and growth that reflects an intimate understanding of your business and of client needs.
115. Failure Happens. Embrace it
You're going to screw up, badly. You're going to lose money. You're going to make bad decisions. It's all part of the process. The faster you learn from your mistakes, the faster you'll find success. Take a deep breath. Put your head up and your shoulders back and keep moving forward.
116. Know Your Where, Why, and How
Know where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how you see yourself showing up.
Write down your 2-year Vision. Capture the promise you make to your clients, your team, and yourself and what it is that sets you apart.
Know the “Why”. Make sure you are building a business that is meaningful, fun, and compelling for everyone involved.
Next, consider your relationship to your business. Make sure that your role is a "healthy" one and that it will serve you for a very long time.
117. Don't Strangle Your Business!
What I mean by that is make sure you have some money saved up for those first couple of years of business or you have a (paying) part-time job that puts you in front of your best business prospects. Most new business owners have an unrealistic idea of how quickly they will turn a profit. So, just plan to have savings and/or a part-time job at the onset and then, you will never be DESPERATE! Desperation is a swift business killer. Plan so you can build slowly, but surely and last for the long haul.
118. Dream Within a Box
The best tip for someone starting a new business - Dream within a box. By dreaming within a box, you limit how far you are willing to go to obtain your dreams. This will control spending, borrowing, and taking on more than you can handle. The adrenalin of starting a new business, while exhilarating, can provoke irrational behavior and unwise decision making. If your dreams are limitless, you may find yourself out of funding and closing down before you even had a chance to get started.
119. Failure is Your Friend
For new entrepreneurs I say JUST DO IT. Failure is part of the game, so don't be surprised when it happens. The ups are big and the downs are heart breaking. Being an entrepreneur is a wild ride and being emotionally resilient is an absolute necessity. It is not for the faint of heart; it's for the valiant and strong souls. So, listen to Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and Jim Rohn to get your head right because you are about to get worked, but it'll be the best ride of your entire professional life.
120. Creating Abundance in Start-up
My #1 tip when starting a new business is to create the financial map. This becomes the solid and concrete structure to which all else flows into.
Both the "forest and the trees" are considered with emphasis on process steps for the 1st year. Beginning with the annual revenue goal, work backwards, breaking down tangible, measurable, and detailed goals for each month, week, and day, which will produce results.
Remember that passion is key and with excellence, finance yield presents.
Nicole Wright of NWPR
121. Your Price Matters
Price yourself competitively. Starting a business can be nerve-wracking, especially when you see others around you who are much more established and they are charging 4x as much as you are. But, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to understand the going rate for your service in your area. You may feel like you aren’t worth market value yet, but you will be doing your company a huge disservice if you price your product or services too low from the get-go.
122. Get a Coach!
The single most important thing for someone who is new to entrepreneurship to do when starting a business is to get a coach as soon as possible. The guidance that a good coach or mentor can give you will get your business started on solid footing and save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and hours of your time - not to mention stress and anxiety due to feeling stuck and alone. Everyone who is successful is coached in some way - decide up front that you'll be coached to success too!
123. Build to Sell from the Start
Build to sell your company from the beginning, even if that is not your intent. That advice was passed down to me by a business coach and it has made all the difference in my approach to business. I now think about sustainability and the overall market needs for my services. My focus shifted from simply getting clients and being paid to thinking about the big picture - true market pricing, strategic networking, my niche area and how to scale the concept.
124. 3 Life-Saving Marketing Tips
Use Direct Mail Consistently.
You need LOTS of new leads to build your clientele and postcards are proven to deliver them.
Create a Website with Online Follow-Up.
A website designed for lead capture and automatic online follow-up tools are essential to boosting your bottom line.
Continue Marketing ALWAYS.
Profits can be seasonal, but one thing must be consistent: your marketing. Cutting marketing when times get tough only compounds the problem.
125. Marketing is an Investment
I may be a bit biased, but I think most business owners have the wrong mindset when it comes to marketing. Good marketing is an investment, not an expense (even though the accounting says otherwise). If you're strapped, there are plenty of "free" ways to market a business that take other forms of investment (time and effort), but no marketing means no buyers - no matter how good your product is. Often times, marketing is the first place small businesses cut expenses - to me, that's backwards.
126. It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Never allow yourself to forget that success is a marathon, never a sprint. There will be plenty of times in your race to success that it may seem easier to quit, but no one ever became a champion by quitting. When you feel tempted to quit, take a moment to reflect on why you started the journey in the first place. Regain your vision and then, forge ahead.
127. Simple Research for Big Profit
New entrepreneurs: Do Your Research!
Create a simple Facebook page for your new business and promote 10 different posts with different offers and marketing messages to your target audience. Keep coming up with new offers until you have several with a 0.8% click-through-rate or higher.
Then, you will know what offers your customers respond to and what messages they like. You will know what problems your customers care about and what language you can use to get the best response from them.
128. Taking the First Step
An important step for new businesses is to open a separate checking account for the business. Transact all business income and expenses through this account. Never mix your business and personal payments. If you have personal expenses to pay, write yourself a check from the business as a record. IRS auditors are trained to hunt for, and disallow, personal expenses claimed as business deductions.
129. Get Your Self-Talk Straight
Self-talk is what you think and say about you and what you are doing, both in your head and in conversation. Self-talk is the medium by which you express your most dominant thoughts. If these thoughts fail to support your business goals, you have a huge problem! As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right in both instances." Be crystal clear about your goals and then, use intentional self-talk to fully support them going forward.
130. Read Religiously
The advice that I wish I had been given when I first started out was to read religiously. While being an entrepreneur requires a person to be extremely confident in themselves, one doesn't know what they don't know. I have found that the more I read and learn, the more educated my decisions become and the more empathy I have for other people's viewpoints.
131. Complete Character Sketches
When starting a business, spend time getting to know your customer. Creating character sketches that reflect general information about the kind of customer you hope to serve, such as their occupations, where they live, and what kind of issues they collectively encounter will help you define your target market, which will make it easier for you to focus on building a product or service that truly meets their needs. Defining such details will set you up for a very successful business venture.
132. At Least One Phone Call a Day
It's crucial to make new connections and involve other perspectives in your business, especially if you are a "solopreneur". Making at least one phone call per day (even if it's for a product demo, to a friend in the industry, or for any other reason) ensures that I continually expand my network and discover new ideas.
133. Two Heads are Better Than One
If you have a new idea that you want to turn into a business and you are going it alone, I would seek out a partner or co-founder. Doing so will help you on the roller coaster ride that you are about to embark on. It also helps to lean on each other when times get tough. And more importantly, it increases the odds of your business venture becoming a success.
134. Hold Workshops for Credibility
Holding low-cost seminars/workshops was the #1 way for me to build my newsletter database and gain valuable clients. When you stand up and speak before a group of people and deliver quality content in a fun and engaging way, you differentiate yourself from the competition and build credibility. By experimenting with different workshop topics over the past year, I developed content that I turned into a book. If you're good at public speaking, try this.
135. Don't Forget This Crucial Step
As an entrepreneur, the best tip I have for anyone starting a business is to list down ALL THE TASKS that are required and estimate how much time it would take to complete those tasks. This should be done after you've finalized your business goals and objectives.
Often time, new entrepreneurs overestimate how much time they and their team have in a work week for all 'priorities'.
From here, you can pare down or delegate tasks or adjust your goals as needed.
136. The One Thing
As a new business owner, the one piece of advice I will share is this: YOU are responsible for your brand, for its success...or its failure. That means YOU need to determine what your "promise" is and ensure every touch-point of your business is aligned to deliver on that promise. Those who work for you need to be trained on this promise and be empowered to deliver on it as well. And, collectively, you all need to communicate it to the outside world.
137. Know Your Worth
Always price your products and services based on the value you bring to each customer. This could be a make or break. Never underestimate your worth.
138. Have a Wandering Eye...
Review. Refine. Repeat. It is important to set goals and focus on them, but by being open to doing things differently than we first thought is a key factor to success. Business rarely evolves as we think it will, and by being flexible and maintaining an attitude that is adaptive, we are better able to achieve goals as we move along our entrepreneurial path! Look around for things that can be done differently (review), try a different approach (refine) and do it all again tomorrow (repeat).
139. Change the Game
Build a marketing plan that you will use each day. Make sure it contains four elements: 1) Strategic business goal recap 2) Five key messages that support the goals 3) Seven frequently asked questions plus answers regarding the business 4) Seven top customers you will capture/grow within 12 months. Most important and after building the plan - schedule media training for yourself plus another leader so that you will be comfortable with the media as you build your business and change the game.
140. Love Your Business & Yourself
Congratulations! You’ve started your own business… now work is on your mind 24/7 instead of 9 to 5! Of course, you love it, but be sure to take time EVERY day to love yourself too. Take 2 minutes each day to remember what you’re grateful for about being an entrepreneur and acknowledge yourself for your accomplishments, even the little ones and yes, even when it feels like nothing got done. If you also jot these down, you can review your journal on the days when you need inspiration.
141. A Place in Hell!
"It doesn't matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop." Confucius. I'm the CEO of an internet site and this is my tip. It's also what I wish I had said to a woman who told me I'd fail because "it took too long to go live with my website." Since only 3% of all tech startups are founded by women, and 90% of all tech startups fail, I thought my tenacity was praiseworthy. I take solace in Madeleine Albright's words, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."
Do you know another tip for entrepreneurs just starting a new business that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!